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Black Confederate From North Carolina

In the Charlotte (NC) Observer, Cliff Harrington reports on Wary Clyburn, a former slave from Union County, NC who volunteered for the Confederate Army.

Harrington writes, "Too often when it comes to the Civil War and slavery, we hear versions of the truth that are woven from conjecture and narrow perspectives. It's refreshing when you find the truth. This is it. Wary Clyburn was a brave and loyal hero. And he deserves to be honored by all of us." The complete article follows.

Wary Clyburn will be honored on 26 August 2007 during a reunion of his descendants. The ceremony will be at First Church of God, 301 Morgan Mill Road, in Monroe NC.

Mattie Rice Clyburn is still compiling information about her father. If you have information, please write to her at PO Box 1503, High Point, NC 27262.
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http://www.charlotte.com/union/story/211803.html
THE SLAVE WHO WAS A SOLDIER: DAUGHTER SEARCHES FOR TRUTH
Memorial will honor man who fought for Confederate Army
Cliff Harrington

Wary Clyburn is a local Civil War hero I bet many of you don't know about.

He's a former slave who fought for the Confederate Army from 1863 to 1865.

He was born in Lancaster County but moved to Union. Many of his descendants live in the Wingate area, and they're planning to honor his memory next month.

Pension documents confirm that Clyburn was a former slave and a Civil War veteran. The documents say he volunteered for the Confederacy with Capt. Frank Clyburn, who was the son of the man who owned Wary Clyburn (Note: The documents spelled his first name several ways: Werry, Weary and Wary. His daughter says the correct spelling is Wary).

According to the pension documents, Wary Clyburn served as the bodyguard for Frank Clyburn in Company E of the 12th regiment. Wary carried Frank on his shoulders to rescue him during intense fighting. Wary also served as a special aid to Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Monday morning I met Mattie Clyburn Rice of High Point; she's the daughter of Wary Clyburn. She had come to the Heritage Room at the Old Monroe Courthouse to get information about her father. She already had a good bit of documentation.

That's where I saw the documents that had been filed when Wary wanted to get pension payments as a Civil War veteran. Clyburn did get his pension in 1926, and after that many other former slaves also got pensions, according to his daughter.

Mattie Clyburn Rice was born in 1922 and her father died in 1930. Rice said her father spent a lot of time telling her about his life. He was too old to work in the fields.

"He would send my brothers to the fields and he would stay with me," she said. "He would tell me about his life and I didn't have any computers or anything, so I had to remember all of this. I kept it in my head and I've been looking and searching."

When she became an adult, she left Union County but continued to look for information about her father, including a search for the site where he was buried.

Mattie Clyburn Rice said she found her father's grave about 10 years ago. It's in what we now know as Hillcrest Cemetery. She didn't have time to show me the exact spot Monday.

However, when the discussion turned to her father, a big smile lit her face. She loved her father and that has driven her to gather information. Even now, she wants to know more.

There is a photo of Wary Clyburn, but his daughter didn't have it with her. She had a photocopy.

It showed a man with a grand smile, seated with what appeared to be his Confederate military jacket on. He was holding a fiddle.

Mattie Clyburn Rice said when she was small, her parents took her to First Church of God on Morgan Mill Road. In her search for information, she again has found the church and that's where the family plans to honor Mr. Clyburn on Aug. 26. There will be a family reunion.

The obvious question is this: Why would a slave volunteer to fight on the side of people who held him in bondage?

That's a question that only Mr. Clyburn can answer.

Too often when it comes to the Civil War and slavery, we hear versions of the truth that are woven from conjecture and narrow perspectives. It's refreshing when you find the truth.

This is it.

Wary Clyburn was a brave and loyal hero. And he deserves to be honored by all of us.

IN MY OPINION

The Memorial

Wary Clyburn will be honored Aug. 26 during a reunion of his descendants. The ceremony will be at First Church of God, 301 Morgan Mill Road.

GOT INFORMATION?

Mattie Rice Clyburn is still compiling information about her father. If you have information, please write to her: Mattie Rice Clyburn, P.O. Box 1503, High Point, NC 27262.

Cliff Harrington

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PRESS RELEASE: 7/9/08

Forgotten Soldier To Be Honored

How do you measure loyalty and friendship? Mr. Weary Clyburn is an example of both and more. Weary Clyburn was a childhood friend of Frank Clyburn, growing up on the Clyburn plantation, hunting and fishing together. Weary was a slave belonging to Frank’s father. That scene was not uncommon in the South as the “Gone with the Wind” plantations were far and few between, compared to the smaller working farms where smaller numbers of slaves worked along side the farmers that owned them. In many cases, the sense of community between the two was closer then the communities of modern times. When Frank joined the Confederate Army, he was sent to Columbia, SC for training. A short time later, Weary shows up in Columbia telling Captain Clyburn that he wishes to join him. He joined his friend out of a sense of loyalty and friendship. Through the years of the war, Weary served along side Frank in Co. E, 12th South Carolina Infantry. Weary was reported to have carried the wounded Frank Clyburn off the battlefield, on two different occasions saving his life. According to Ms. Mattie Clyburn Rice, a living daughter of Weary Clyburn, he also served General Robert E. Lee towards the end of the war. Like many men during the war Weary, a slave, chose to be part of the Confederate Army. Weary lived out the later parts of his life and raising a family in Union County, North Carolina and is buried in an un-marked grave in Monroe.

On Friday, July 18th, at two separate ceremonies, Weary Clyburn will be honored for his faithful friendship, heroism under fire, and devotion to the principals in which he believed.

At 11:50 AM, the press will be allowed into the general business meeting of the Sons of Confederate Veterans convention where Ms. Mattie Rice and her family will be there to see her father honored. Then at 3:30 a new headstone will be dedicated at the Hillcrest Cemetery. The Monroe event is being sponsored by the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans in cooperation with the City Of Monroe. Mayor Kilgore is proclaiming that day “Weary Clyburn Day” in Monroe. The ceremony will feature Earl Ijames, NC State Archivist, and Nelson Winnbush.

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From: "northcarolinasouth"
Date: July 20, 2008
To: NCSouth@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [NCSouth] Re: Gravestone Dedication for Black Confederate

Last week's headstone dedication for black Confederate Weary Clyburn in Monroe NC has drawn a lot of media attention. Articles from the Greensboro (NC) News & Record and the Charlotte (NC) Observer follow.
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http://www.news-record.com/content/2008/07/17/article/colored_confederate_has_his_day_in_monroe
'COLORED CONFEDERATE' HAS HIS DAY IN MONROE

By Donald W. Patterson
Staff Writer

Friday, July 18
updated 1:40 pm

Mattie Clyburn Rice of High Point will take part in an unusual ceremony today, but then, she's an unusual woman.

She's the 87-year-old daughter of Weary Clyburn, a "colored Confederate," a slave who served in the Civil War.

"His is a hero's service," said Earl L. Ijames, a curator at the N.C. Museum of History. "Him serving is really an incredible story."

Rice feels the same.

That's why she's agreed to allow the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the town of Monroe to honor her father's memory this afternoon.

SCV officials say it's rare for their organization to pay tribute to a former slave.

"They are few and far between," Michael Chapman, commander of an SCV group near Monroe, said of today's ceremony. "If a family doesn't want their (relative) honored, we are not going to do that."

Equally rare will be Rice's participation. Nationwide, records show that only 30 daughters of Confederate veterans still survive. Officials with the United Daughters of the Confederacy could not say how many are African Americans.

What's important to Rice is that after decades of searching, she's been able to document her father's past.

Rice and her family have declined requests for interviews, saying they would talk about Weary at a news conference after the ceremony in Monroe.

"She's not the kind of person who wants the limelight," Ijames said. "I told her this whole event vicariously honors the thousands of 'colored Confederates' who served in various capacities and never had a voice to express it."

As a child growing up on a Union County farm, Rice listened to her father's stories about the war.

For years, Rice had tried to find records to support her father's claims and convince her own daughters that their grandfather had served in the Confederacy.

Then, three years ago, she found the man who had the answers.

"It's such a special story the way this unfolded," said Ijames (pronounced Iams). "I don't believe in coincidence. I think it's the Lord orchestrating stuff."

Records show that Weary Clyburn was born about 1841 on the plantation of Thomas Clyburn in Lancaster County, S.C.

Thomas Clyburn had a son, Frank, who was about two years younger than Weary.

"They were best friends and grew up together," Ijames said. "That's not an uncommon story."

In 1861, Frank joined what would become Company E of the 12th S.C. Volunteers. Soon after, Weary escaped the plantation and joined Frank, serving as his bodyguard.

Twice, Ijames said, Weary saved Frank's life. Once, Frank had been wounded in a battle near Charleston and later during fighting near Petersburg, Va. Both times, Weary carried his master off the field under fire.

Ijames believes Weary probably fought alongside Frank because Rice described her father as an expert marksman.

Weary also recounted that he performed personal services for Gen. Robert E. Lee, a claim that Ijames said has not been confirmed.

However, Frank, an officer, and Weary served under Lee throughout the war, and Weary would name one of his sons Lee.

After Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Frank and Weary walked back to Lancaster County together.

After the war, Weary worked as a sharecropper and painter. Frank became a state senator.

About 1920, Weary moved to Union County. In 1921, his wife, Eliza, gave birth to a daughter, Mattie.

The birth certificate listed Eliza's age as 32; Weary was in his late 70s.

It was his second marriage.

In 1926, when he was 85, Weary applied for and received a Confederate pension. The application described him as "too old to work and too proud to beg or steal."

The amount of the pension isn't known, but it would have been his first governmental compensation for his war service.

After her father's death in 1930, Rice treasured a picture he had given her. Historians believe it shows Weary in 1913 at the 50th Gettysburg reunion.

On his lapel, he's wearing what appears to be a Confederate veterans medal.

As Rice looked for documentation of her father's past, Ijames had been researching "colored Confederates."

"It may raise an eyebrow," Ijames said of the phrase, "but historically, it is accurate."

So far, his research has turned up more than 250.

"Frank wasn't the only officer who brought his slave with him," Ijames said. "It was a common occurrence."

Ijames still marvels at the day in August 2005, while he was still working in the Office of Archives and History, that Rice wandered in.

She had traveled to Raleigh with two of her daughters in search of her birth certificate. But those documents are kept at the state Health Department.

"It was so hot outside, I didn't have the nerve to tell her she was in the wrong place," Ijames recalled.

While Rice cooled off, Ijames struck up a conversation. When he learned her maiden name was Clyburn, he asked, "on a whim," if she knew Weary Clyburn.

"Lord, have mercy," Rice responded. "How do you know my daddy?"

"Your daddy?" Ijames replied. "You wait right here."

He hurried off to get Weary's pension records, and Rice soon had her answers.

"Lord, have mercy," she said. "I've been searching for 75 years for records on my daddy."

This proved what she had been telling her family for years.

"The daughters were aghast," Ijames said. "For families (like theirs), there tends to be a lot of discussion about whether this (kind of information) should be made public. I got the feeling the same thing went on in their family."

When the Sons of Confederate Veterans told Rice they wanted to honor her father, she agreed.

Today, there'll be a parade, honor guard and the reading of proclamations. The group also will place a small Veterans Administration stone at Weary's unmarked grave in Hillcrest Cemetery.

In a news release, the group said it wanted to honor Weary "for his faithful friendship, heroism under fire and the devotion to the principles in which he believed."

Contact Donald W. Patterson at 373-7027 or don.patterson@news- record.com

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http://www.charlotte.com/union/story/719208.html
CONFEDERATE ARMY VETERAN - AND SLAVE
Wary Clyburn is honored as Civil War hero in ceremony.
Cliff Harrington

Wary Clyburn, the Confederate army veteran, puts a new face on an old standard for which we can measure our character. He was brave and loyal.

Clyburn was a slave.

He was born about 1841 in Lancaster County, S.C., records show. He died in 1930 in Union County, where he moved after the war.

He was honored as a Civil War hero Friday during a ceremony at Hillcrest Cemetery in Monroe. Members of N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans sponsored the event, along with the City of Monroe. Mayor Bobby Kilgore declared it Wary Clyburn Day.

It should be noted that official documents spell his first name several ways: Werry, Weary and Wary. His daughter, Mattie Rice, says the correct spelling is Wary.

The Lancaster, S.C., plantation where he was born was owned by Thomas Clyburn. Government records from 1850 show that Thomas Clyburn owned more than 17 slaves, infants to age 60.

Earl J. Ijames, curator for the N.C. Museum of History, said there's no way to know how many slaves served in the Confederate army. "They weren't counted because they didn't have full rights and were not paid," he said.

Clyburn didn't allow the slaves he owned to be sold or split up, Ijames said. "That shows some conscience on the part of Thomas Clyburn."

He also pointed out this conscience was within the context of slavery, one of the cruelest practices in American history.

Ijames said many believe Wary Clyburn had grown up with Thomas Clyburn's son, Frank Clyburn.

Rice, who was born in 1922, confirmed that claim last week.

"We talked a lot about the war," she said. "… He told me he just went to war with this fella he grew up with. He said his family wasn't treated like the other slaves around there."

Ijames said during the slavery era, it was not unusual for slaves and owners' children to grow up together and, in some cases, develop relationships and feel loyalty to one another.

Wary served as bodyguard for Capt. Frank Clyburn in Company E of the 12th regiment from South Carolina. He carried Frank on his shoulders to rescue his boyhood friend from intense fighting. He also served as a special aide to Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to documents that his daughter has.

Even today Wary Clyburn gives us a clear role model of honor and bravery under the most trying circumstances. Few things have challenged the human spirit more than enslavement and war.

Through Mr. Clyburn we get a snapshot of the complex relations that existed during that time. He was loyal to the men who had shown him kindness and that loyalty carried over even into a war where they could have been cast as enemies.

His actions show he had a deep understanding of what it meant to be a man of character.

I can't honestly say I understand Mr. Clyburn's depth of loyalty and bravery. I can say it's a shame history hasn't given us a better recording of others like him.

Wary Clyburn, the Confederate army veteran, puts a new face on an old standard for which we can measure our character. He was brave and loyal.

Clyburn was a slave.

He was born about 1841 in Lancaster County, S.C., records show. He died in 1930 in Union County, where he moved after the war.

He was honored as a Civil War hero Friday during a ceremony at Hillcrest Cemetery in Monroe. Members of N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans sponsored the event, along with the City of Monroe. Mayor Bobby Kilgore declared it Wary Clyburn Day.

It should be noted that official documents spell his first name several ways: Werry, Weary and Wary. His daughter, Mattie Rice, says the correct spelling is Wary.

The Lancaster, S.C., plantation where he was born was owned by Thomas Clyburn. Government records from 1850 show that Thomas Clyburn owned more than 17 slaves, infants to age 60.

Earl J. Ijames, curator for the N.C. Museum of History, said there's no way to know how many slaves served in the Confederate army. "They weren't counted because they didn't have full rights and were not paid," he said.

Clyburn didn't allow the slaves he owned to be sold or split up, Ijames said. "That shows some conscience on the part of Thomas Clyburn."

He also pointed out this conscience was within the context of slavery, one of the cruelest practices in American history.

Ijames said many believe Wary Clyburn had grown up with Thomas Clyburn's son, Frank Clyburn.

Rice, who was born in 1922, confirmed that claim last week.

"We talked a lot about the war," she said. "… He told me he just went to war with this fella he grew up with. He said his family wasn't treated like the other slaves around there."

Ijames said during the slavery era, it was not unusual for slaves and owners' children to grow up together and, in some cases, develop relationships and feel loyalty to one another.

Wary served as bodyguard for Capt. Frank Clyburn in Company E of the 12th regiment from South Carolina. He carried Frank on his shoulders to rescue his boyhood friend from intense fighting. He also served as a special aide to Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to documents that his daughter has.

Even today Wary Clyburn gives us a clear role model of honor and bravery under the most trying circumstances. Few things have challenged the human spirit more than enslavement and war.

Through Mr. Clyburn we get a snapshot of the complex relations that existed during that time. He was loyal to the men who had shown him kindness and that loyalty carried over even into a war where they could have been cast as enemies.

His actions show he had a deep understanding of what it meant to be a man of character.

I can't honestly say I understand Mr. Clyburn's depth of loyalty and bravery. I can say it's a shame history hasn't given us a better recording of others like him.

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Ceremony pays homage to a Civil War veteran

 BY BILLY BALL
 Staff Writer
 MONROE

  “You are not forgotten.”

  So spoke a Civil War re-enactor, one of many gathered in Hillcrest Cemetery Friday, as he poured water from a canteen on Weary Clyburn’s newly dedicated grave, a tribute to the black Confederate soldier buried in Monroe. The soldiers were there with historians, Monroe civic leaders and about 75 locals to honor Clyburn, who, until this week, was buried in an unmarked grave covered only with a broken block and a flag.

  Clyburn’s new grave is enclosed by a white chain, white rocks and an engraved headstone.

  He was a slave from South Carolina during the war, but he fought with Confederate soldiers alongside his master’s son.

  Born sometime around 1841, he died in Union County in 1930.

  Historians say he wasn’t paid for his service until four years before his death.

  A local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and its chief, Michael Chapman, ran the ceremony, as Clyburn’s dozen or so relatives huddled under a nearby tent.

  His daughter, Mattie Clyburn Rice of High Point, was scheduled to attend, but canceled late because of illness.

  “This day is the culmination of her life’s work,” said Keisha Hooks-Lee, Clyburn’s great-granddaughter.

  Raleigh historian Earl Ijames said Clyburn ran away from his master’s Lancaster County, S.C., plantation to join the fight. “Might Weary Clyburn finally be a man, and not three-fifths of a human?” Ijames said. “Absolutely.” Monroe Mayor Bobby Kilgore read a statement proclaiming Friday “Weary Clyburn Day” in the city.

  Clyburn, according to Kilgore was a “legend” and a “hero” for his service.

  “I don’t know how many people would do that,” Kilgore said.

  “ ... He needs medals on top of medals.”

  Cannon fire shook the ground following the ceremony and a bagpiper played “Dixie,” moments after Clyburn’s relatives laid flowers on his grave. “It’s been an emotional day,” Chapman said.

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Duty. Honor. Confederacy.

Published Thursday, July 24, 2008
by Kimberly Harrington, For The Charlotte Post

MONROE – At first glance, it’s an unlikely combination. A black family seated under a tent facing a line of Civil War re-enactors, proudly holding Confederate flags and gripping their weapons.

But what lies between these two groups is what brought them together: An unmarked grave about to get its due, belonging to a slave who fought for the Confederacy.

Weary Clyburn was best friends with his master’s son, Frank. When Frank left the plantation to fight in the Civil War, Clyburn followed him.

He fought alongside Frank and even saved his life on two occasions.

On July 18, the city of Monroe proclaimed Weary Clyburn Day; an event that coincided with the Sons of Confederate Veterans convention in Concord.

The N.C. Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans (James Miller Camp 2116) honored Clyburn, who died March 30, 1930, with a memorial program at Hillcrest Cemetery in Monroe and unveiled a new headstone for his unmarked grave.

“It’s an honor to find out we have a gentleman who served ... with loyalty and devotion to his friend,” said Commander Michael Chapman of the local SCV chapter.

“I’m happy to be here. It’s a glorious day,” said Mary Elizabeth Clyburn Hooks of New Jersey. “I just think it’s beautiful these people chose to celebrate my grandfather’s bravery and courage. It’s just overwhelming.”

Missing from the event was the woman who helped bring the pieces together, Mattie Clyburn Rice of High Point, who remembered the stories her father shared with her as a child.

Rice was hospitalized the morning of the ceremony.

Rice remembered being at her father’s funeral, said Earl Ijames, a curator at the N.C. Office of Archives and History. “He told her stories, and being able to verify those stories brought this event together,” he said.

Ijames met Rice when she was at the state Archives Office looking for her birth certificate in August 2005. She was in the wrong department and he struck up a conversation with her. Ijames asked Rice her name and upon hearing Clyburn, asked if she had ever heard of Weary Clyburn.

“She looked straight at me and said, ‘That’s my daddy,’“ he said.

Ijames has been researching “colored Confederates” for the past 14 years. According to Rice, he said, Clyburn’s father sharecropped and painted after the war. He moved from Lancaster County, S.C., and eventually settled in Union County. Rice moved away but relocated to North Carolina three years ago to take care of her nephew.

An impressive crowd gathered at the gravesite to pay tribute to Weary Clyburn. Civil War re-enactors, dressed in full regalia, came from overseas and states as far away as California and Pennsylvania to the program.

“We’re here to honor Weary Clyburn, but really, the honor is ours,” said N.C. SCV Commander Tom Smith. “The Sons of Confederate Veterans honors our own and he’s one of our own. We need to do more of what we’re doing now."

Weary Clyburn was one of thousands of slaves who served in the Confederate Army, Ijames said. There’s no way to quantify the number of slaves who served. “But it’s in the thousands, easy.”

People today often wonder why slaves fought for the Confederacy. Ijames said the only course they had to freedom was through the Confederate Army. “Why not go and defend what they know versus running away and going to the unknown,” Ijames said. “A lot of us automatically assume the war started to free slaves. That’s not true. It was a war to preserve the Union as the way it was.”

Slaves were not allowed to fight in the federal army, Ijames said. Those that made their way behind Union lines were still considered slaves.

Clyburn escaped the plantation and made his way to Columbia, S.C., where he met up with Frank in boot camp. “They were best friends,” Ijames said.

Felicia Bryant, Clyburn’s great-granddaughter, agreed. “They were really good friends and that trumped everything else.”

On The Web: http://www.thecharlottepost.com/index.php?src=news&refno=1005&category=News